- Mwawa implicates Bingu, cabinet
by Zainah Liwanda, 10 November 2005 - 06:06:06
Former Education Minister Yusuf Mwawa has said President Bingu wa Mutharika had full knowledge of the Education Special Client Account which was used by government to bribe MPs to support it in Parliament.
Mwawa, who was testifying at the Lilongwe Magistrate's Court Wednesday on four charges levelled against him by the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), said money from the account was used under the guise of pre-consultative meetings on a National Education Conference.
Mwawa, who was entering his defence as first witness, told Lilongwe Senior Resident Magistrate Mzondi Mvula that Mutharika directed that a task force be formed whose objectives was to woo MPs to support government considering that most of them had moved to the opposition following the President's resignation from the UDF which sponsored him.
Looking composed, Mwawa went on to narrate that the task force included Foreign Affairs Minister Davis Katsonga, Attorney General Ralph Kasambara, Home Affairs Minister Anna Kachikho, Health Minister Hetherwick Ntaba, Agriculture Minister Uladi Mussa, Frank Mwenefumbo, Deputy Agriculture Minister Henry Mumba, MP for Nsanje Lalanje Steve Malamba, MP for Ndirande Malabada (RP) Aaron Sangala (RP), Mzuzu City MP Good Kayira (RP) and Abi Shaba, MP for Mzimba East.
Mwawa further revealed that before the task force would meet, himself and Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe met Mutharika on how the task force would operate and that the President suggested that Mwawa, as leader of government business in the House, takes the matter to Cabinet. Mwawa said during a Cabinet meeting on February 1, 2005 it was decided that Gondwe should be included as an ex officio and that it must be funded.
"The amount of money that was transferred to the account by my then Principal Secretary Simeon Hau was K5 million and I was told that since this money was not voted [for] by the National Assembly, and that because of the secrecy and nature of work, the money could not be deposited in any other vote of the Ministry of Education. I was advised by the PS that the ministry had a Special Client Account which was dormant and that those moneys were deposited there," said Mwawa.
Mwawa, who insisted he only knew about the account from Hau, told the court that the PS told him that the signatories to the account were a Mr. Kachingwe, chief accountant; principal accountant Mandale, his special assistant Ken Ntonga, and that he never authorised payment of the K160,550, which he is alleged to have used to finance his wedding reception in March this year at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre.
According to Mwawa, the task force held its first meeting at the Ministry of Education where MPs were paid K15,000 each and that Gondwe attended, with Mwawa as convenor.
Mwawa, who spoke for about four hours, went on to explain that when the media reported that Gondwe was spotted at the Ministry of Education bribing MPs, the development did not go down well with government, and knowing that the moneys were "illegal", above all not substantiated with documents from Treasury, the task force met to find way forward.
"Noting the embarrassment from government, the task force brain-stormed and decided collectively that all meetings from that time should not be termed caucuses of Parliament but be called pre-consultative meetings on the National Education Conference. Because of that cover up, we were able to conduct meetings at Mzuzu Hotel without sometimes knowledge of the hotel management," said Mwawa.
Mwawa further told the court that Hau and his assistant Ntonga lied to the court that he did not know about the account, saying they intended to embarrass him, adding that Hau knew all the transactions, including the K160,550 that was paid to Mount Soche Hotel.
Mwawa tendered as evidence a letter purportedly from Chief Secretary for the Public Service Charles Matabwa, saying that they had verified that indeed the money was paid to Mount Soche for the 'bogus' consultative meeting which was slated for March 26 2005 and that Matabwa scribbled some comment saying they should wait for Mwawa who was then abroad to explain since the media are found of publishing bogus articles.
Mwawa went on to narrate that when it was apparent that the ACB was investigating the matter, he spoke to Mutharika, explaining that it was not true that he used public funds. He said he warned the President considering the secrecy and clandestine nature of the Special Client Account which he was alleged to have drawn money from, explaining to him the implications of discussing the account in public, knowing what repercussion the revelations would have on him personally as Head of State.
Mwawa further told the court that Mutharika advised him to write a memo, which he did and the President assured him that he would talk to the ACB to see what to do. Mwawa added the President said he would relieve him of his duties as minister because of the way the matter was being reported in the media.
Mwawa said that Mutharika however assured him that he would still attend government meetings though not minister, testifying to court that it was on that promise that he was still attending government meetings even after being dropped.
Mwawa then maintained that he paid K170,000 to the hotel for his wedding reception and not K160 550 as reported, challenging that the said amount was still with Mount Soche Hotel.
He said all his wedding transactions were done by his brother Felix Mwawa, denying earlier testimonies by state witnesses that he, among other things, asked for quotations and instructed payment of his wedding using the Special Client Account.
Mwawa said the caution statement from the ACB investigation officers had errors.
"I am convinced your worship that I am not a thief as the charges are saying that I stole a cheque from the Ministry of Education to pay for my wedding. As leader of government business, I was mandated by government to oversee that account just like how I was overseeing the K3 billion at the Ministry of Education.
"I want to state that the charges...being levelled against [me] of abuse of office were not made in good faith. There was a lot of politics that ensued, there was subjectivity in the counts, there was a rush to prosecute," said Mwawa.
During cross examination in the afternoon, ACB Director Gustave Kaliwo asked Mwawa why he had two different signatures one on the cheque he purportedly paid for his wedding using his National Bank account and the memorandum to the President.
Mwawa said for secrecy of his private accounts he had to have a different signature from official documents.
Kaliwo asked the court to allow him play a recorded interview Mwawa had with the investigators, which his lawyer Gift Nankhuni objected to, saying the state had closed their witness and it was not in order to bring fresh evidence.
The magistrate then adjourned the case to next Wednesday when both parties will make submissions before winding up cross examination of Mwawa and proceeding to the next witness.
EU gives Malawi K750m
by Olivia Kumwenda, 10 November 2005 - 07:03:06
The European Union (EU) has provided a further 5 million pounds to Malawi for emergency humanitarian aid to help tackle the current food crisis which is now affecting about five million people.
EU said in a press release Wednesday the assistance was a demonstration of its multilayered approach which aims at supporting good and sustainable policies as well as immediate relief.
"This additional funding comes on top of, and will be complementary to, substantial EC contributions for food security interventions in Malawi of K2.6 billion of which K2.5 billion has been allocated for food aid and the remainder for safety net programmes," reads part of the statement.
The statement said to date donors and the Government of Malawi have mobilised about 214,000 metric tonnes of maize and 18,000 metric tonnes of pulses (peas and beans).
The EU said it will continue to work with Malawi in closely monitoring the situation as it evolves to respond accordingly.
EU has provided its assistance through its humanitarian aid department, DG-ECHO, which comes under the responsibility of Commissioner Louis Michel.
The funds are being channelled through NGOs and UN agencies and will cover a series of interventions such as nutrition, emergency water and sanitation, the provision of emergency agricultural inputs and logistics.
This year, Malawi has experienced the lowest crop production of the past seven years forcing President Bingu wa Mutharika to declare a state of national disaster last month for more donors to assist.
Mzuzu congregation set for Saturday
by Francis Tayanjah-Phiri, 10 November 2005 - 06:56:10
Mzuzu University will this Saturday confer degrees to 150 graduating students during the institution's first congregation for this year.
Mzuzu University Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Mwanza said in an interview that Chancellor of the University Bingu wa Mutharika would confer the degrees.
Mwanza said Mutharika would confer the 150 students with Bachelors degrees in Education, Forestry and Library & Information Science, respectively.
"It gives us great pleasure each time our students are conferred with the degrees as it makes us proud that we have not sweated in vain. The crop of students we produce here is of high standard, and we are fast establishing our name in the global university fraternity," said Mwanza.
Mzuzu University was established by an Act of Parliament in 1997, and has to date produced 326 graduates. The university has also increased enrolment from the initial 90 in 1999 to the present 650.
Ntonjani selling next to central hospital
by Emmanuel Muwamba, 10 November 2005 - 06:53:34
Locally brewed opaque beer popularly known as Ntonjani is being sold at Ginnery Corner next to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, something the City Assembly says poses danger to life.
One of the people selling the beer said he had chosen the place because it is where he can generate more income than his place in Ndirande.
"I erected this shelter over the weekend and business is going on very well unlike in Ndirande. In Ndirande there were quite a number of us and you cannot make enough profits in such environments," said the seller who refused to give his name.
Asked if he did not fear the law which forbids the sale of beer in such places, the seller said: "If it was wrong to sell beer around this place then others that I have found at the entrance of the hospital doing the same business would have closed long time ago."
But Blantyre City Assembly Director of Health Services Leicester Bandawe Wednesday said the assembly is aware of sale of Ntonjani next to the hospital, and they will stop the practice.
Bandawe said: "We are aware of the sale of these beers and other alcoholic drinks in these areas and we are making progress to remove them before the end of this month."
He said the danger of selling such beverages along the streets is that drunkards may be hit by motorists.
"But the other serious danger is that patients who stay in hospitals may sneak out to drink this beer which may be dangerous to their health," said Bandawe.
He also said the assembly is aware of the sale of alcoholic beverages in other places in Blantyre such as Wenela Bus Terminal and opposite Nando's in the city centre where minibuses park.
He said the assembly has already issued notices of eviction to those involved in the practice, giving them a deadline of November 21.
The director explained that the issuing of notices is in line with the Local Government Act.
The proliferation of alcoholic beverages on the streets of Blantyre City is also a concern to Minibus Owners Association (MOA) who asked the Police and the Road Traffic Directorate to consider banning the sale at bus terminals.
During a stakeholders meeting discussing ways of checking minibus accidents on Monday, MOA Vice President Mike Kumilamba asked government to ban alcohol vending from bus terminals, saying some drivers are tempted to drink it.
Police Regional Traffic Officer for the South Andrew Soko said they will ask Blantyre City Assembly to act on the concern.
Farmers refuse to repay treadle pump loans
by George Ntonya, 10 November 2005 - 06:17:11
Government is likely to lose millions of kwacha because some smallholder farmers who received treadle pump on loans are refusing to pay back, officials from the Department of Irrigation have said.
Thousands of treadle pumps were distributed to help smallholders farmers go into winter cropping as one way of addressing food insecurity at household level.
The beneficiaries were supposed to each pay a total of K9,000 over three years, but most of them are now refusing to repay allegedly because of President Bingu wa Mutharika's order that each Member of Parliament should receive 400 treadle pumps for free distribution.
The Nkhotakota Rural Development Programme (RDP), which falls under the Salima Agricultural Development Division (ADD), distributed treadle pumps worth K18 million but has only managed to recover 1.7 percent, according to Assistant District Irrigation Officer Brino Mpatuleni White.
"People are refusing to pay. They are arguing that they cannot pay when their colleagues are receiving free treadle pumps," said White in an interview at his office Monday. "I don't think we'll be able to recover the money."
He said some beneficiaries of the scheme sold their pumps while others are not using them because they are not fit enough to pump water.
"We have a good number of pumps that have not been installed. Of course, there are others who are unable to use them because the pumps lack some accessories," White explained.
Randon checks in other ADDs indicated that similar setbacks exist.
"People stopped paying for the treadle pumps when it was announced that the government was going to distribute free ones," said Acting District Irrigation Officer for Kasungu Herman Ngozo in an interview Tuesday.
He said that his office stopped pursuing the loans until government auditors advised them to enforce the contract agreement.
"The auditors have told us that every person who received the pumps on loan has to repay the loan," he said.
According to Shire Valley ADD Irrigation Officer Benson Sumani, smallholder farmers there received treadle pumps worth K42.6 million, but only K80,750.00 has been recovered.
He said that while some beneficiaries are reluctant to pay because of the presidential order that people receive free treadle pumps, others claim to be unable to pay because of the hunger situation.
"That's the setback we have here. We cannot force people to pay when we know they are struggling to find food," Sumani said.
A total of 1,727 treadle pumps have so far been distributed in the Shire Valley for free under the presidential directive, said Sumani.
'We can kill, or save, the Earth'
09 November 2005 09:11
Mirriam Namushi is a recent graduate of the Southern African Wildlife College in Limpopo. (Photograph: Fiona Macleod)
Mirriam Namushi comes from a dirt-poor family in rural Zambia kept alive by women. She knows the meaning of relying on natural resources for survival.
How, at the age of 38 and with four young children of her own, did she come to be a prosecutor of environmental crimes and the abuse of natural resources? Namushi was one of 42 students who graduated recently after spending a year honing their skills at the Southern African Wildlife College in Limpopo.
"As a woman, I am fighting to keep the wild animals for future generations. People say environmental crimes are not like stealing or murdering, but I am trying to show them the environment matters," she told the Mail & Guardian.
Namushi prosecutes between 12 and 15 cases a month in western Zambia. Offenders found with "proscribed trophies" such as ivory or a lion skin can receive jail sentences of five years or more.
A big part of her job is getting community buy-in for conservation. Some weeks she joins her investigators on anti-poaching operations in the bush, where they rely on intelligence from rural communities.
Like the eight other women who graduated with her, Namushi believes getting more women involved in environmental matters is imperative for the future of the planet.
"Women will make things work well and there will be less corruption," she said. "As mothers, they have a feeling for nature and they want their children to see lions for real, not just in the movies."
The Zambia Wildlife Authority nominated Namushi for training at the college, which borders the northern Kruger National Park. She won a bursary from the Southern African Conservation Education Trust to do a diploma this year.
Most of the graduates, like Namushi, were separated from their children for a year to study. Few of their families, based in seven Southern and East African countries, could afford to attend the ceremony last Thursday.
Iracema Maiopue, from Maputo, was fortunate to have not only her three-year-old daughter and her husband present, but also her bosses from Mozambique's ministry of tourism. Maiopue (27) has a degree in forestry engineering from the University of Mondlane, and after getting her college diploma plans to join the ministry's directorate of conservation.
"Animals have to be respected; we have to provide the right environment for them to grow and develop," she said. "Women are good in this role because they are sensitive."
Her mentor is the deputy director of conservation areas, Isabel Macie, one of a growing number of women leading the reconstruction of environment and tourism in post-civil war Mozambique.
Delivering the keynote address at the ceremony, Macie said the world faced mass species extinction because of human beings. "As the population grows, the situation will get more serious. We've seen human populations grow from 2,5-billion to 5,7-billion in just 20 years.
"We can have a disastrous impact on the planet -- but we also have the ability to save other species. This is our challenge."
Since opening its doors in 1997, the wildlife college has trained more than 2 000 students from 20 African countries, mostly in the Southern African Development Community, in everything from computer skills and communication strategies to overhauling a 4X4 and dissecting an impala.
Maisa Chulu, a 26-year-old ranger from the Lake Malawi National Park, became interested in conservation when she joined an environmental club at school. Her family and friends expected her to become a nursery school teacher or secretary.
"I had this concept that if we destroy the animals and trees, we destroy the key to life. We had better use them wisely so others can use them too."
Chulu joined Malawi National Parks after school and was in charge of environmental education and community involvement at Lake Malawi before starting her diploma at the college. Her husband is the park's assistant manager, and their son will be two when she gets home.
With her new skills, she will be promoted to assistant parks and wildlife officer for national parks. One of few, and sometimes the only woman during her training, she is determined to make a difference in her drought-ravaged country.
"Conservation is becoming more important [in Malawi] because there are more people, and they rely more and more on our natural resources," she said.
The promise of peace parks
"Elephants need big home ranges," says Stephen Malungo. "The moment you put up fences, you restrict their natural movements and this affects the entire ecosystem. Transfrontier conservation offers a way of cooperating by extending areas for animals -- with benefits for people."
For Malungo, an operations ranger in Zambia's Lower Zambezi National Park, cross-border conservation areas -- or "peace parks" -- hold promise for Africa's reserves. The Lower Zambezi is part of an initiative involving Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Malungo (38) acquired his diploma in natural resource management at the Southern African Wildlife College with flying colours last week. He received two awards as best student, after spending the year as student representative council president.
Managed by the Peace Parks Foundation, one of the college's main focus areas is the training of staff working in transfrontier conservation. The foundation is helping set up at least 14 peace parks in the Southern African Development Community region, and wants many to be sustainable by 2010.
The peace parks are massive undertakings, involving buy-in from governments and communities and cooperation among bureaucracies. Five countries are involved in setting up the Kavango-Zambezi peace park.
Malungo said the diverse views of his fellow students were a key element of his course at the wildlife college. "These are the networks that will drive and shape the future of conservation in Africa," he said. -- Fiona Macleod
ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract
by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17
The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by government to look for another contractor instead of China Hunan Construction to construct of the long awaited Karonga/Chitipa road.
China Hunan from Mainland China won the bid which was approved by the ADB but government later wanted to award the contract to a Portuguese firm, Mota Engil, the second lowest bidder, claiming China Hunan's bid was unrealistically low and that the company had very little experience in Africa.
Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe confirmed on Sunday the ADB rejected the proposal at a meeting held between the bank and Malawi government in Tunisia last week.
The Malawi government wanted the Tunisia meeting to authorise it to get another contractor for the road, said Gondwe.
"They did not allow us to look for another contractor because of their regulations. But we are about to get another alternative for Karonga/Chitipa and I would be surprised if it does not start before end June," said Gondwe.
The minister explained that the bank insisted that regardless of the unrealistic cost estimates, China Hunan should be allowed to go ahead with the construction.
But Gondwe could not give further details about the alternatives, arguing there are still a few loose ends to tighten up before disclosing it.
The problem with China Hunan, according to Gondwe, is that it would require more money to meet the total cost of the project.
This paper reported last week that government met Taiwanese representatives where they offered to fund the road if the ADB continued to reject its favoured contractor, Mota Engil.
Gondwe could neither confirm nor deny the reports on the Taiwanese offer, saying government was looking at a number of ways to handle the issue.
According to Gondwe, the China Hunan's bid was 24 percent lower than the consulting engineers' estimates of K7.9 billion and 34 percent below the second lowest bidder.
President Bingu wa Mutharika laid a foundation stone for the construction of the road this year ahead of a crucial byelection in Chitipa in December last year.
The President's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the Chitipa Wenya constituency by-election that fell vacant following the collapse and subsequent death of Speaker of Parliament Rodwell Munyenyembe who belonged to the UDF.
Last week, police and the District Commissioner (DC) for Chitipa stopped a rally that was aimed at soliciting people's views about development projects in the district.
The meeting, which was reportedly organised by Concerned Citizens of Chitipa, was among other things also supposed to tackle the controversial Karonga/Chitipa road.
The project failed to start off in 2000 when a contract for an initial loan of US$17 million and US$15 million from the Taiwanese government was signed, with some quarters claiming the Bakili Muluzi administration diverted the money to another road.
Chihana operated on
by Edwin Nyirongo, 22 May 2006 - 06:32:31
Alliance for Democracy (Aford) president Chakufwa Chihana, who is in South Africa receiving treatment, had a brain operation on Friday at Garden City Clinic, family and party officials confirmed on Sunday.
Aford national chairman Chipimpha Mughogho said he was told by the family members that Chihana had a successful operation on Friday and was put in an intensive care unit.
Mughogho said Chihana, who initially complained of headache, was found with a brain tumour which South African doctors removed.
Mzimba West MP Loveness Gondwe said Aford boss condition was stable.
"Hon. Chihana had a major operation and after that he was put in the intensive care unit but his condition is stable. I do not know where he was operated on but it had something to do with the skull," she said.
Deputy Information Minister John Bande referred the matter to the Health Minister Hetherwick Ntaba who was reported to be in Geneva, Switzerland.
Aford publicity secretary Norman Nyirenda said when Chihana's situation got worse, the family alerted the Office of the President and Cabinet who took him to Mwaiwathu Private Hospital.
"The doctors at Mwaiwathu advised that he should be sent to South Africa and they even identified the doctor for him," he said.
He said the costs are being met by the Malawi government, contradicting his earlier statement that his boss covered the cost.
Mughogho is now in charge of the party.
Gondwe will be a busy person when Parliament starts meeting on June 6 as she is the only Aford MP remaining.
Pillane proposes presidential age limit
by Emmanuel Muwamba , 22 May 2006 - 06:34:13
A member of the DPP National Governing Council Abdul Pillane on Saturday urged members of political parties and the civil society to put an upper age limit in the Constitution for presidential candidates.
Pillane was addressing members of political parties and civil society in Liwonde during a two-day follow up workshop to the National Conference on the Review of Constitution held in March in Lilongwe.
"My view is that (an upper) age limit should be at 75. We have to give a chance to younger people to lead because in circumstance, when you age you become forgetful especially when sickly," said Pillane. "Overall, chances should be given to young people."
But UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala, whose party members agitated for the age limit during presentations, played the issue down.
"I feel there is no logic to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates. If someone is 90 or 80 I don't know how that can influence the electorate not to vote for someone who is younger, I don't see any logic behind that," said Makwangwala.
MCP participants at the workshop also vehemently objected to the proposal.
MCP vice president Nicholas Dausi in an interview said: "There is no constitution in Africa which stipulates an upper age limit. So it would be strange in Malawi to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates."
MDP President Kamlepo Kalua also opposed the need to have an upper age limit.
"If we have personalities in mind that we want to discriminate against then it is unfortunate. The constitution we want to build is a guiding document for future generations and it should not bar certain individuals on the basis of grudges," he said.
The Malawi Law Constitution Issues Paper of March 2006 says several submissions that were received put an upper presidential age limit in the Constitution.
"It is argued that it is common sense that mental knowledge faculties tend to fail with age. As regards what the actual age limit should be the submissions are far from being agreed. The range is from 60 years to 80 years," read submissions in the Issues Paper.
On whether MPs should double as ministers, Kalua said this should be the case.
Makwangwala also said it is not right for MPs to serve as ministers because the Legislature, another arm of government, is reduced while the Executive branch is beefed up from another arm of government.
"There is no separation of powers when MPs double as ministers," said Makwangwala.
But Pillane said there is no problem for MPs to work as ministers as well, saying MPs are elected by the President.
"One can serve both posts. There have been no problems before for people to double," said Pillane.
The Centre for Multiparty Democracy funded the workshop through the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.
The objective was to come up with a collective position on the Issues Paper which will be presented to the Special Law Commission that will be constituted soon.
Mussa hails new driving licence
by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:58:52
Transport and Public Works Minister Henry Mussa last week said the design of the Malawi-Sadc driving licence would guard against forgery and ensure that only skilled and legitimate drivers of particular vehicles are licensed.
Mussa was speaking at the official launch of the licences in Lilongwe where he announced that traffic police would from July enforce speed limits and sober driving using Breathalysers which his ministry is in the process of procuring.
The minister said financial constraints are the reason for the delay in procuring the equipment but assured that by July they would be available.
"With the new equipment, the days of those who believe in the thrill of drink and driving are numbered," warned Mussa.
Mussa added that with the new licence, government is optimistic that the country's roads would be safe.
Acting Director of Road Traffic James Chirwa said the features that distinguish the new from the old licences are the Malawi national flag and a ghost image of the driver's photograph, among others.
Those with old licences, according to Chirwa, are expected to get the new ones after the expiry of the former.
UDF demands investigation on Kasambara
by Rabecca Theu, 22 May 2006 - 06:30:46
The United Democratic Front (UDF) has asked government to investigate Ralph Kasambara on allegations of abuse of office while he was attorney general.
UDF publicity secretary Sam Mpasu told the press Sunday that the party is neither amused or saddened by the removal of the former AG but asked government to institute investigations on Kasambara.
"Beyond the removal of the Attorney General, we now urge President Mutharika to institute investigation against Mr Kasambara into allegations that have made rounds in the public domain during the recent past. These include: Mrs Helen Singh and SS Rent-a-Car; SGS and ITS saga; ...........the use of Malawi Police Service in the arrest of three Chronicle journalists and the handling of Mrs Rubina Kawonga," said Mpasu.
Mpasu also accused Kasambara of awarding government contracts to Lawson and Company where he was a senior partner.
"We urge government to thoroughly investigate the former AG. We also ask government to cautiously select the new AG ," said Mpasu, who was accompanied by the party's Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala, leader of the party in Parliament George Mtafu, chief whip Leonard Mangulama and a member of the executive Hophmally Makande.
But Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati said UDF should give offer its advice to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB).
"They should advise bodies like the Anti-Corruption Bureau to conduct the investigations and why are they saying this now? Is it because Kasambara has been fired? This is not a personal issue. If they have other pressing issues they should just say so. These arguments should have come up earlier on when the said cases were happening," she said.
Kasambara asked UDF to proceed with the mission of urging government to investigate him.
"They can do their job. Everyone has a right to lobby for anything they want in the country. UDF has a right to do that, let them go ahead," he said.
Kasambara was relieved of his duties as AG by the President last week. Government has not given reasons behind the removal.
Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land
The Times of Zambia (Ndola)
May 18, 2006
Posted to the web May 19, 2006
MALAWIANS who have encroached on both the 'no-man's' and part of the Zambian land at the Mwami border in Eastern Province have plucked out some beacons that were used in the demarcation of the border.
The Malawians are now using the beacons as stools in their newly-established villages on Zambian land.
Eastern Province Minister, Boniface Nkhata, said in Chipata yesterday that if the situation was not controlled urgently, Zambia would lose huge tracts of land to Malawians migrating into Zambian in large numbers.
A check at the Zambia-Malawi border showed a number of beacons had been vandalised and new structures constructed on the 'no man's' land and a large portion of Zambian land.
Mr Nkhata said the trend extended to many parts of the province bordering the two countries.
"A large portion of Zambian land has been taken up by the Malawians starting from the Chama boundary up to the Mwami border.
"The weighbridge at the Mwami border was initially in Zambia from the time both countries gained independence from Britain, but now the bridge is on Malawian soil," Mr Nkhata said.
The minister, who is former Chama District Commissioner, said there was similar encroachment in Lundazi and Chama districts where Zambia shares a boundary with Malawi.
He said a Malawian farmer identified as Mr Mfune had cultivated 71.5 hectares on Zambian land and employed about 265 Malawian workers.
"Khombe Farm in Chama district in Kanyerere's area, along the Muyombe road which leads to Northern Province where this Malawian farmer has cultivated a vast land is on the Zambian territory," he said.
Workers on the farm admitted that they were farming on Zambian soil but could not go back to Malawi because the land in that country was inadequate for cultivation.
Mr Nkhata appealed to the ministry of Lands to urgently release money for the demarcation of the Zambia-Malawi border to avoid further land disputes between the two countries.
Meanwhile, the Immigration Department in Livingstone has arrested a couple and another man, all Zimbabweans, for working in Zambia without permits.
They were arrested at Gwembe village yesterday where they worked for Into Africa, a tour operating company that provides bush dinners and breakfast.
According to the Immigration Department in Livingstone, the trio entered Zambia through the Victoria Falls border as visitors but decided to work for the company illegally.
Last week, immigration officers arrested 10 Zimbabwean traders and six Ethiopians for entering and staying in Zambia illegally.
The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.
The Ethiopians were arrested at Konje Guest House when they ran out of money to proceed to Botswana.
Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests
22 May 2006 11:51
Zimbabwe's biggest labour federation on Saturday threatened to call massive demonstrations against the government over poor salaries and worsening living conditions for workers in the country.
The threats are ratcheting up pressure against President Robert Mugabe's government after similar threats by the biggest opposition party in the country, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), about two months ago.
Speaking at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) conference on Saturday, the labour body's president, Lovemore Matombo, said the powerful union wants the government to award workers salaries that match the country's ever-rising inflation.
"I can assure you we will stage massive demonstrations to force them [employers] to award workers minimum salaries that tally with the poverty datum line," said Matombo.
Matombo did not say when exactly the ZCTU would order workers to strike.
Meanwhile, the MDC on Sunday said it will push ahead with plans for anti-government protests, saying victory in a key by-election at the weekend was a "sign the electorate supported its policies", including democratic mass resistance.
A spokesperson of the main faction of the splintered MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said victory over Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and a rival MDC faction in a Saturday by-election in Harare's Budiriro constituency is a sign Zimbabweans still have confidence in party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his policies.
Tsvangirai, the founding leader of the MDC, heads the main rump of the opposition party whose candidate, Emmanuel Chisvuure, polled 7 949 votes to win the Budiriro House of Assembly seat.
Gabriel Chaibva of the other faction of the MDC, led by prominent academic Arthur Mutambara, garnered 504 votes while Zanu-PF's Jeremiah Bvirindi polled 3 961 votes.
"This election showed that the electorate still has confidence in the MDC [Tsvangirai-led] leadership and its policies," Chamisa told independent news service ZimOnline.
He added: "We will now move to consolidate our position * we still believe in mass protests. Until we have attained our goals we see no reason why we should abandon [plans for protests]."
Tsvangirai has threatened to call mass protests this winter against Mugabe and his government. He says the mass protests, whose date he is still to name, are meant to force Mugabe to relinquish power to a government of national unity to be tasked to write a new and democratic Constitution that would ensure free and fair elections held under international supervision.
Mugabe and his government, who had hoped for victory in Budiriro to show they were recapturing urban support from a splintered MDC, have not taken idly the opposition's threats to call mass protests, with the veteran president warning Tsvangirai he would be "dicing with death" if he ever attempted to instigate a Ukraine-style popular revolt in Zimbabwe.
In a fresh crackdown against dissension, the police last week arrested several church and civic leaders for organising public prayers and marches to mark last year's controversial home-demolition exercise by the government.
The police also banned the marches and prayers, fearing they could easily turn into mass protests against Mugabe and his government.
However, the marches went ahead in the second-largest city of Bulawayo after organisers had obtained a court order barring the police from stopping the march.
Political analysts say although Zimbabweans have largely been cowed by Mugabe's tactics of routinely deploying riot police and the military to crush street protests, worsening hunger and poverty are fanning public anger that Tsvangirai -- with proper planning and organisation -- could easily manipulate.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe six-year old economic crisis that has seen inflation breaching the 1 000% barrier. Last year, the World Bank said Zimbabwe's economic crisis was unprecedented for a country not at war.
The MDC and major Western governments blame Mugabe for wrecking the country's economy, which was one of the strongest in Africa at independence from Britain 26 years ago.
Mugabe denies the charge blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and her allies after he seized white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.
The Harare authorities recently hiked salaries for civil servants, with the lowest-paid soldier now earning about Z$27-million while the lowest-paid school teacher now takes home about Z$33-million.
But the salaries are still way below the poverty datum line, which the government's Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says now stands at a staggering Z$42-million a month for an average family of six.
The Zimbabwe government often accuses the ZCTU, a strong ally of the MDC, of pushing a political agenda to remove Mugabe from power.
Meanwhile, Matombo and Lucia Matibenga retained their posts as president and first vice-president respectively during the ZCTU congress that ended on Saturday. -- ZimOnline